Published: 22nd Jun 2017

The power of well-chosen words

- true team

We're living in an age where looks are supposedly everything and images widely regarded to hold higher equity than words.

At this year's excellent Silicon Beached in London, Mel McVeigh from Photobox told us that people process images 60,000 times faster than text. Google images holds 24 billion selfies. In social media, visual posts attract 40 times the number of shares than text only. We have ever shortening attention spans.

Yet recent weeks have shown the importance of the right words at the right time and the power of language to reach hearts and minds.

We are staunchly user focused at True and often have to remind clients that great communication is not about what they have to offer but about what people want.

Look at the campaign slogans in GE17. While 'strong and stable' brought to mind an upright and impervious structure, 'for the many not the few' delivered a choice. One is what the client (party) has to offer, the other invites the user (voter) to see things differently.

Capturing the imagination and inspiring people to do, think, feel and act in very few words is bloody hard work. I think that's why poetry is having such a moment. Writing's shortest, cleverest, most visual form inspires by creating pictures in your mind.

You'd have to have a heart of wurtzite boron nitride (50% harder than diamond, thank you New Scientist) not to be moved by Longfella AKA Tony Walsh's This Is The Place, delivered at the Albert Square vigil for the victims of the Manchester attacks.

And, regardless of political persuasion, Carol Ann Duffy's Campaign, an exclusive post election poem for The Guardian must be viewed as a fine example of simple, relatable language at its blistering best.

At last year's Integrated Live, True devoted our stand to the extraordinary talents of Michael Bolger's Poetry Takeaway as a reminder of the need to humanise digital brands. The delight we brought to the faces of delegates weary with branded stress balls, pens, jelly beans and tote bags sparkled in their eyes and shone in
their smiles. We captured lives and loves and longing in lines that truly transfixed our audience. This is the stuff – the emotional reaction, the stirring to act – that every good copywriter dreams of.

David Mackenzie Ogilvy (son of a Highlander, so we’re practically related) famously said ‘Most good copywriters . . . fall into two categories. Poets. And killers. Poets see an ad as an end. Killers as a means to an end. If you are both killer and poet, you get rich.’

Or at least happy.

The feeling when you have a verbal identity so strong, it defines your brand. When you capture a thought perfectly and concisely. When a line feels exactly right. When you know the image might attract them but it’s the words that pull them in. That’s what great copy can do. And that takes some beating.

If you’d like help or advice on copy, content or verbal brand identity, we’d love to help. Get in touch with Sam.

- true team